SPOILERS WARNING FOR THE WHOLE ARTICLE!
Oof lemme catch my breath here.
I love procrastinating because I despise my other graduate student responsibilities, so this past week I decided to make Human Revolution my top priority and finished it up. Verdict? It was a hoot of a good time and I will likely replay it at some point! So in this little write-up, I'm just gonna talk about some things I really enjoyed about the game. But, I'm gonna start by listing what I think was bad, because I really hope Eidos Montreal will make another one - which I will buy - and in that one, I hope they fix some of these issues (assuming other people had similar issues).
Let's start with the hacking. To be blunt, I really don't enjoy the hacking mini-game and the augmentations around it. It's not very interesting, and it feels like total filler. It's not as annoying as BioShock's mini-game, but it's getting there. I wouldn't mind if they did what the original DX did and just made hacking purely a matter of waiting around for a bar to fill up. Sure, it's even less interesting, but it's also far less annoying. I have never played a hacking mini-game that was worth the time it took to play, whether it be Mass Effect or Splinter Cell, so my vote would be to just dump the idea completely. But, feel free to surprise me! The way hacking is tied to the augmentations is also pretty annoying. When I get a new augmentation, it should be like getting a new toy to play with. But spending a praxis point just to be able to hack more terminals? That's not nearly as satisfying as, for example, being able to jump and fall higher.
Some folks at Gamers With Jobs brought this up, and I have to agree: Human Revolution doesn't have much variety in its environments. For the most part, you're creeping around office buildings and hall ways. Whether it's an apartment, a lab, or a club, there aren't very many particularly memorable locations. This is probably a result of its context: All the locations HR explores have been done to death in previous games in the stealth genre. Hell, even the original Deus Ex did almost all of the locations you find in HR. There's nothing inherently wrong with this, but I hope Eidos Montreal takes more chances on the next game and let us creep around in more exotic, creative locations.
OPEN ALL THE LOCKERS
The stealth feels great, especially with the cover and cover-switching system, but there are some issues: It seems overly expensive to do non-lethal take downs. The manual knock-out spends a whole battery, and that really limits your ability to use it in conjunction with other augmentations (such as invisibility). In the original DX, you just had to sneak up behind a guard and knock them out with the black jack. Quick and simple. HR? A whole long elaborate animation plays out, exposing you even further. The other option is the stun gun, which is nice and snappy, but there is too little stun gun ammo. Maybe I should've used the tranquilizer gun as well, which I didn't touch at all, but the result of this is that half way through, I abandoned my non-lethal ways and just did what was quickest. The result?
KILL ALL THE GUARDS MWAHAHAHA.
That's OK. SPOILER ALERT After they killed Malik, I didn't even think twice about shooting and stabbing the life juice out of each and every single one of those helmet-wearing jokers. And hey, that made the game a ton more fun! So what did HR teach me about life? Sometimes, it's more fun to let your moral fiber loosen up a little. Makes sense.
Anyway, enough with the downers...
It is undeniable that the team at Eidos Montreal understands what made Deus Ex so especially fun. They understand freedom, consistency, upgrades, stealth, and story. They competently channel the spirit of Deus Ex in a way that I did not think was possible for a modern game studio. They also understand the stealth genre as a whole and tastefully sample the best ideas from exemplars of the genre. Kotaku has a whole article about this, and I totally agree so I won't repeat what they say. But the most interesting and perhaps unexpected influence would be Crysis 2. Once I got the jumping and landing augmentations, exploring became way more enjoyable for me. This totally reminded me of how I felt jumping around in Crysis 2, which was pure joyous fun. More FPS's should do this!
And once you get the heavy-pickup aug, you can pick-up turrets! How cool is that? Just pick them up, and put them down facing a corner. Shame on you, turret, trying to shoot me and all...now go sit in the corner and think about what you did. Shout out to Portal!
The mini-map is great. It really is one of the best map systems I've seen for a 3D game. But it should have been revealed as you go, because having all the hallways revealed to me straight from the get-go robs me of the fun of discovery. Also, the ability to make notes on the map (e.g. "Merchant here") would've been great (channeling Ultimate Underworld here). But all in all, fantastic implementation.
And last but not least, the implementation of ladder climbing is the best I've ever experienced. Certainly better than ladder climbing in the original Deus Ex.
Aight I guess this article ended up being more negative than positive, but if you're reading this you've hopefully finished the game already, and you know how much fun it really is. Cheers.